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Remember the Alamo!

It was quiet just before dawn on March 6, 1836. Only the lonely sounds of a yipping coyote broke the stillness of the Texas night.

As the men of the Alamo slept, another faint sound echoed beyond the fort-like mission's walls. At first, the sound was low, like the distant rumble of thunder. Then it became louder. Soon it was clear that this was no thunderstorm.

“The Mexicans are upon us,” a lookout yelled. Others shook themselves awake and came running.

“Boys, let them have it,” cried Davy Crockett, one of the Alamo's defenders. A Mexican army of 4,000 soldiers was attacking the Alamo's crumbling walls.

When the fighting finally stopped, the Mexican army controlled the Alamo. None of the defenders survived. The Alamo quickly became an American symbol of courage in the face of danger. It also came to be known as “The Cradle of Texas Liberty.”

Battle for Freedom

Movie fans can relive the battle by watching a new film about the Alamo. The movie's producers say it is a great story to tell because the battle is an important part of American history.

At the time of the battle, Texas was part of Mexico. The Mexican government ruled the region from distant Mexico City. As more people from the United States moved there, many Texans grew restless with the Mexican government. They wanted to govern themselves. They wanted independence.

Mexico did not like that idea and tried to stop the settlers.

By early 1836, thousands of shopkeepers, farmers, ranchers, and others had come to Texas from the United States to fight for Texan independence. Davy Crockett, the former U.S. congressman from Tennessee, was among them.

Fight for the Alamo

The Alamo became the most famous battle in that struggle. With about 180 Texans trapped in the old mission, General Antonio López de Santa Anna and his 4,000-man army surrounded the Alamo on February 23. If he forced the defenders of the Alamo to surrender, Santa Anna thought he could stop the Texas independence movement for good.

The standoff continued for days. The Alamo's commander, Lt. Col. William Travis, knew that it would be nearly impossible to defeat Santa Anna. More Mexican soldiers arrived, but Travis still refused to surrender. “Victory or death,” he pledged.

On March 5, Santa Anna decided to force his way into the mission. His decision surprised his officers. They did not believe the rebels could hold out much longer. Santa Anna, however, insisted. Just before dawn on March 6, Santa Anna's soldiers attacked. By 8 A.M., they had won a complete victory, but not before 600 Mexicans fell.

Only a month later, an army of Texans, led by Sam Houston, defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto. They shouted “Remember the Alamo!” as their battle cry. By winning that battle, Texans won their independence. Nine years later, in 1845, Texas became a state.

Remembering the Alamo Today

People interested in the Alamo can see the mission as it looks today. It is still there, in San Antonio, Texas.

Visitors will find one of the nation's most popular monuments to the spirit of independence and freedom. More than 2.5 million people come each year to the Alamo.

They can tour the walls and courtyards of the old mission. A museum on the site displays personal belongings of those who fought in the battle. The museum also has a large collection of photographs and illustrations that show how the Alamo has changed through its long history.

Visitors can also remember the spirit of the Alamo when they read the words of Juan Seguín, who fought for independence there. “Texas shall be free and independent, or we shall perish in glorious combat.”